There are two universal truths that are keeping Wenatchee AppleSox head coach Ed Knaggs from having a relaxed all-star break: Things get lost in the shuffle during any institutional transition; and whenever a team, list, etc., is selected subjectively, somebody is going to be left unhappy.
That brings us to this year’s West Coast League All-Star Game, which will be held Tuesday in Victoria, British Columbia. Knaggs will be coaching the South Division team, even though the Sox play in the North.
The coaches of last season’s division-winning teams (Corvallis and Wenatchee) were slated to be the coaches of the game, but that was lost somewhere in the shuffle while there was no WCL president, and now Knaggs will be the skipper for the South and Victoria HarbourCats head coach Dennis Rogers will lead the North.
“I wasn’t at the (owners’) meeting, (where the All-Star Game decisions were made), and sometimes I think our league forgets some of the baseball stuff and goes with decisions that are convenient. I think that was the problem with having the lame duck president that we had,” Knaggs said. “I’m not excited to coach the team that our guys aren’t playing on, but I will do it, and do a good job of it.”
Current WCL president Dennis Koho, who has only been the chief officer of the league for a little more than a month — which was after the All-Star Game decisions were made — said that the league will most likely return to the winning coaches format in upcoming years.
“I suspect that’s how we’ll do it in the future,” he said in a phone interview Friday.
AppleSox owner/general manager Jim Corcoran gives a more simple explanation to what happened.
“I think with the change of leadership in the league, some of the details got left in file cabinet somewhere,” Corcoran said. “I think that the new executive committee, which is made up of all new owners, did the best they could with what they thought they had. There was probably some more information in a box somewhere that could’ve helped them.”
Knaggs also expressed frustration because he is expected to fill out the South roster even though he isn’t familiar with the players in that division.
Three AppleSox players were named to the North roster — starting pitcher Trevor Lubking, first baseman Connor Spencer and outfielder Brett Stephens. Center fielder Brock Slavin didn’t make the team despite hitting .313 with 17 runs batted in and playing stout defense in the outfield over 31 games.
“I think our league, we can do it better,” Knaggs said about how the players are selected to the team. ”We give scouts some say in who plays in it, and we cater to them a little bit. Brock Slavin is a guy who should be on the team.”
Players can make the team in three ways: By being nominated by their coach, and then receiving votes from opposing coaches; by being a team selection; or by being selected by Major League scouts in the area.
“We view ours as an all-star game and a prospect game,” Koho said. “We’re really trying to give our best players the opportunity to be seen by scouts, and that doesn’t happen in every league. Sure enough, somebody is going to have great statistics — especially by the time the votes are tabulated — and they weren’t selected by the coaches. That happens every year. It’s a limited number, and there is always going to be a good argument for somebody who didn’t get on and why they should be included.”
While Slavin’s coach is needled by the outfielder’s omission from the roster, the Gonzaga Bulldog insists he couldn’t care less.
“I don’t have an opinion on that, if I didn’t get selected, I didn’t get selected,” Slavin said Thursday after hitting the game-winning double against the Kelowna Falcons. “It’s how it goes, you know.”
On a positive note, Victoria has pre-sold more than 2,000 tickets to the event.
“I think they’re shooting for the largest All Star Game attendance in league history, and I think they’ll have a real good chance at breaking it,” Koho said. “I’m looking forward to a great event.”